Witnessing

Resistance Poetry

aune Quick-to-See Smith, Fifty Shades of White (detail), 2018. Mixed media on canvas. Promised gift of Nancy A. Nasher (L’79, P’18, P’22) and David J. Haemisegger (P’18, P’22). Image courtesy of the artist and Garth Greenan Gallery, New York. © Jaune Quick-to-See Smith.

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Witnessing

Resistance Poetry

by Crystal Simone Smith, Sheila Smith McKoy
Southern Cultures, Vol. 26, No. 3: The Women’s Issue

"pool hall— / I beat the hajibed woman’s / husband”

Crystal Simone Smith’s haiku is infused with a profound love for and appreciation of the natural world. As one of a growing community of Black haiku poets, Smith’s work is also that of an activist, born from her life as a Black woman and mother of two Black sons. Her words resonate as much-needed interventions during a time—like so many other moments in our nation’s history—when it is all too harrowing to be Black and human. Her haiku “election night map,” written in response to Jaune Quick-to-See Smith’s Fifty Shades of White [right], exemplifies the art of distilling the moment. Smith’s work is shaped by her commitment to her craft and her refusal to look away. As she notes, “We have an obligation to respond to the immense ongoing inhumanity we are witnessing, ragingly so.” A poet whose work is at once haunting and human, Smith’s witness, her activism, is necessary reading.